· By Arttic Fox

Meet She Sells Sanctuary

By Arpita Quadir

The Ethical Local Market is a fair trade shop made possible with the help from multiple passionate Toronto based vendors. Vendors like She Sells Sanctuary have been a part of the ELM family since the store first opened its doors to the public in 2021. The fair trade ethically sourced brand can be found online, at local markets and now permanently at the ELM shop. She Sells Sanctuary is amongst the many featured brands at ELM that helped found the shop. They have rooted for the idea of the store since its early stages when ELM was still just an idea. She Sells Sanctuary is an important partner to ELM and its founder, Nurjahan Begum. By offering support and insight, ELM is able to be the best version of itself. 

Begum and the founder of She Sells Sanctuary, Shelley Snow bonded over a similar vision for a store that could be a permanent home for ethical brands that are otherwise only accessible a few times a year at local markets. Coincidentally, Begum and Snow met at the Buy Good Feel Good Market and the Leslieville Flea Market (rebranded in 2023 as The Toronto Flea) in 2018 where they bonded over a shared belief in sourcing and selling ethical goods to create a positive social impact. Begum and Snow are both women in their fifties starting a business from scratch to support women and children from South East Asian countries. Together, they could share their successes and triumphs over the hardships of navigating a local business in Toronto. 

She Sells Sanctuary connects to women and girls in Nepal and empowers them through selling handmade goods. The brand was born out of a personal journey that brought insight to Snow about a larger social issue that needed her attention. The shop helps support women by creating jobs for them that offer livable wages. These women are able to hand make unique items that are featured in the shop using materials like felt, wool, silk and cashmere. Felt is one of the hardest materials to work with and Nepal does it best on a world scale. She Sells Sanctuary uses the material in its products to offer intricate hand-made items like mobiles, puppets, ornaments and hand loomed textiles.

Having a storefront that customers can experience and enjoy was always the dream. Begum was able to make the hope of a storefront into a reality with the support from brands like She Sells Sanctuary, despite the odds. Plans to expand continue to be a possibility for ELM through the help of vendors and the trust that they have in this journey. ELM is a display of team effort and inspiration to local businesses in Toronto. Snow remembers being the first to step into the store when there was nothing there. Today has completely transformed into a boutique-style designer store filled with beautiful products and a welcoming atmosphere. The space holds stories from around the world and promotes change every day. It is all possible due to the local vendors that share a similar vision.